Writing, self doubt, and getting through it

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So, quick update before we get into the actual post. My primary care doctor has agreed to prescribe my already established (though poorly working) psych meds to hold me over until I can get in to see the med manager here. I picked them up Thursday night.

Writing is a huge part of my life. It has been since I was 8 and wrote my first story, which was in all reality a fan fic based on A Little Princess. At first, I wrote with pen and paper. I filled my journals with fanciful stories and some rather bad poetry. When I was 14, I first began building the fantasy world that now has almost thirty one novels planned for it. It was rather childish and the characters were too perfect and overpowered, but it gave me a chance to escape from the misery that was my life. I even started co-writing a story with my world and characters with a friend where his characters came to my world.

I dabbled with poetry again in my teen years, but it has never been one of my strong suits. I branched out from my fantasy world into varying types of science fiction. As I progressed in my writing life, I added dystopian fiction to my list of attempted genres. Then I did more fantasy stories that weren’t set in my long term fantasy world project. I’ve also got a rather long series of urban fantasy stories that I want to write.

Even now, I have a folder on my computer that’s also backed up in two other places full of story ideas. Right now it sits at twenty one ideas not currently tied to any of my major story lines. I’m always finding new things I want to write about. I love fantasy and science fiction in all of its incarnations, though I’m iffy about erotica/erotic romance in those genres. I’ve read some good ones and some truly awful ones. Then again, that’s true for reading any book in those genres.

I have a tendency to put some hot button topics in my books and explore them in my fictional worlds. In Into the Sands, the WIP I’m trying to finish right now, I’m dealing with refugees and how they’re mistreated in the country they flee to. This is reminiscent of the refugee crisis in Europe. In Fury, the science fiction standalone novel (which may actually end up as part of a series, but I don’t know yet) the main character has to overcome her prejudicial hatred of an entire group of people to learn to value lives that aren’t like her own.

In one of my urban fantasy novels, which currently exist under the collective title of Fang Faces, I deal with a main character with mental illness. I explore her self hatred because of what she is, who her parents are, and how she can’t control her own mind. I deal with her isolation from everyone around her as she falls deeper into the abyss. She ultimately finds herself and builds up a powerful support group. This character is very near and dear to my heart since she is living through what I have.

Sometimes my bipolar makes it difficult for me to write. I have days, sometimes weeks, where I barely manage a few hundred words. I can’t focus. My characters don’t matter to me. What I do write feels flat, dead, and useless. I feel like I’m a failure. But that’s the depression and self doubt talking. Once my moods improve the self doubt lessens.

You notice I said “lessens”. It doesn’t ever completely go away. I doubt it ever will, more because no one ever goes through life without some self doubt rather than some moral failing of mine. Everyone has this little voice that tells them they’re not good enough, that they’re a failure, that people are going to ridicule them.

It can be overwhelming at times, especially if you combine it with mental illness. Self doubt is one of the things that can lead you into a death spiral that is hard to pull yourself out of. Everyone deals with it, but for those who suffer from depression it feeds into their sense of worthlessness. Self doubt can lead to despair and that can lead to hopelessness. That hopelessness can lead to suicidal ideologies and even the attempt.

I have found, on those days when I have more control over my moods, that when self doubt creeps in I need to do something else that I find enjoyable. If I’m writing and I’m having issues, I grab my knitting needles and do some knitting. If I’m knitting and I start hating what I’m working on, I pick up my crochet hook and do something else. If those don’t work, I read. If I can’t read and the fiber arts aren’t working, I try to write again. But not on one of my stories. I’ll try a blog post or a letter or a journal entry. Something different that I can put somewhere once the feelings pass.

If you have those days where you just don’t feel like anything you do is worth it, take a chance and try something new. Pick one of your favorite hobbies and work at it. Go for a walk. Talk to a friend or family member. Do what you need to do to get yourself out of that funk. Because the harder you work to get out of it, the easier it becomes to push back against the self doubt. There is a way to prevent it from overwhelming your life. Just take it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time, and remember that there are ways out of every hole.

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One thought on “Writing, self doubt, and getting through it

  1. Good points. I tend to write hot button topics, too. In my case it has to do with abuse and healing from it. I never meant to put it in, but when part or all of your self identifies as something, it does tend to come out in the writing.

    Self-doubt is common to all writers. I have never met or read one who says everything he or she writes is golden roses from the start. Most, if not all, hate the work somewhere along the line: Agatha Christie,, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, you, me, Leah, maybe even JK Rowling. It’s the struggle in the writing that sharpens our skills. Hang in there with it.

    Your last paragraph is good advice. If you are struggling, take care of yourself first. I bake, cook, walk on the beach, crochet, whatever, because my ADHD brain won’t settle down long enough to write and it’s not worth cudgeling every noun, verb and article out one word at a time. There are days I wonder if I’ll ever write again, and then I reel off a 3500 word day. Not perfect words, but it’s writing and it feels good.

    Excited for where the next week takes you. Love you!

    Like

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